1 Thess. 1:13-20 BibleRef
CONTEXT: 1 Thess. 2:13-16 explains why Paul gives thanks for the Christians at Thessalonica. They had responded positively to the Word of God, and the Word had produced fruit in their lives. They had become like the Judean believers by withstanding persecution. Paul assures his readers that those who oppose the gospel are objects of God's wrath. 1 Thess. 2:17-20 recalls how Paul had been chased out of Thessalonica, but he strongly wanted to return and see the Thessalonian Christians again. Repeatedly, he desired to return to Thessalonica, but was unable to do so. The Christians at Thessalonica meant so much to Paul that he anticipated greeting Christ at His coming with the blessing of knowing he had won these believers to Christ. They were his glory and joy.
v. 13: For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
In this verse Paul expresses his unceasing gratitude that the Thessalonian Christians had responded with faith when he preached to them. They accepted what he said as God's Word and not the word of men. Paul understood that the Word of God had taken hold of their lives and was bearing spiritual fruit. This comment expands on the remarks made by Paul at the start of this letter, when he also referred to his "constant" mention of the Thessalonians in his prayers.
Psalm 1 illustrates the power of God's Word in the life of the person who gives it a warm reception. It causes that person to be "like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season" (Psalm 1:3). This acceptance is not meant to be blind, or foolish, however. The Bible specifically commends those who seek to confirm the truth of what they hear, even from someone like Paul (Acts 17:11).
v. 14: For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,
Paul refers to the churches in Judea as suffering persecution from the Jews. He indicates that, like the Judean believers, the Thessalonian Christians were suffering persecution from their countrymen. Jewish Christians who accepted Christ were under immense pressure to return to obedience to the law-this is a major inspiration of the book of Hebrews. The Thessalonians also experienced backlash for turning away from the religion of their neighbors. In their case, however, the former religion was entirely pagan and idolatrous (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Faithful Christians can expect persecution. Paul writes: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus, too, predicted His followers would be persecuted. He said, "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you...", "A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you ..." (John 15:18, 20).
v. 15: who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,
In this passage, Paul commends the Christians of Thessalonica for faithfully enduring persecution. Their conversion from idolatry to the truth (1 Thessalonians 1:9) would have angered many of their neighbors, family, and friends. The persecutors of the Thessalonians were the same kind of people who had crucified the Lord Jesus and martyred the Old Testament prophets. Jesus accused the unrepentant Jews of Jerusalem of killing the prophets and stoning God's messengers. He spoke of His constant willingness to show them His love and care, but they had rejected His offer. He even said, "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not" (Luke 13:34).
Following in the succession of those who had rejected Jesus, unrepentant Jews had forced Paul and his team out of Thessalonica. Paul charged them with the sins of displeasing God and keeping others from hearing the gospel. It is bad enough to reject the gospel, but it worse to stand in the way of others who might otherwise hear, believe, and be saved.
v. 16: hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
The persecutors of the Thessalonian Christians had stood in the way of Paul's outreach to the Gentiles. By doing so, they were curtailing Paul's ability to give others an opportunity to be saved (Matthew 18:6). They were piling up sins upon sins and bringing God's wrath upon them. Paul's reference to God's wrath may point to God's turning from the Jews in order to draw the Gentiles to Himself.
In the early history of the church the Christians focused primarily on reaching Jews with the gospel. In Romans 1:16 Paul referred to this priority by stating, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." When a disorderly crowd of Jews in Antioch in Pisidia rejected the gospel message that Paul and Barnabas preached, the two missionaries announced: "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).
v. 17: But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while--in person, not in spirit--were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.
Perhaps some of the Thessalonian believers thought Paul had purposely abandoned them, but that was not the case. Persecution had separated Paul and his missionary team from the Thessalonian Christians. He addresses the believers as his brothers whom he hoped to see again soon.
The term "brothers" reveals the strong relationship that existed between Paul and the Thessalonian Christians. He writes that he has them in his heart, but he longed to see them in person, and he had tried to visit them. The verb translated "torn away" in this verse is the Greek word, aporphanisthentes. It literally means "to be orphaned." The word emphasizes the strong feeling Paul and his coworkers had for the believers at Thessalonica. Being suddenly separated from them felt like the loss children feel when death separates them from their parents. Paul was physically separated from the Thessalonians, but he still held them lovingly in his heart. It was not a case of "out of sight, out of mind."
v. 18: For we wanted to come to you-I, Paul, more than once--and yet Satan hindered us.
Popular culture portrays the Devil as a fictional character in a red suit, with a pointy tail and horns, and who carries a pitchfork. On the contrary, the Devil, called Satan in this verse, is a real person. God created him as an angel of light and allowed him to occupy a place near God's throne, but Satan tried to usurp God and led a rebellion of angels against Him. Subsequently, God cast him out of heaven, where throughout human history he has tried to thwart God's purposes and destroy God's people (see Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19).
In this verse Paul blames Satan for hindering him from returning to Thessalonica. Every time he tried to visit his Thessalonian brothers, circumstances opposed his doing so. Paul attributes this interference to the work of the Devil. In Ephesians 6:11-12 Paul speaks of Satan as a powerful adversary. Clearly, because God was working in Paul's life and ministry, Satan targeted Paul as someone he wanted to destroy.
v. 19: For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?
Paul has just indicated that he desperately wants to see the Thessalonian Christians again. He did not leave voluntarily (1 Thessalonians 2:17), and he blames his inability to return to them on interference from Satan (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Looking forward to the return of Jesus, Paul asks the Thessalonian believers what he most anticipated and what would give him his greatest joy, what crown would he wear, and what would make him most proud? His answer is simple, but profound: it is those with whom he has shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. Verses 19 and 20 make this point in poignant detail.
The New Testament teaches that faithful believers will receive crowns when Jesus comes again. First Corinthians 9:25 mentions an imperishable wreath for those who run the Christian race successfully. Second Timothy 4:8 invokes the crown of righteousness. James 1:12 speaks of the crown of life. First Peter 5:4 references an unfading crown of glory. Revelation 2:10 mentions the crown of life. Paul identified the Thessalonian believers as his crown and also his hope and joy.
As his hope, Paul wanted to see them grow strong in Christ. As his joy, they filled him with rejoicing. He could recall what they were before trusting in Christ as their Savior. They were pagans steeped in the worship of idols. He could see what they had become: Christians who displayed faith, hope, and love. These remembrances caused Paul to rejoice greatly.
v. 20: For you are our glory and joy.
In this verse Paul answers the question he posed in verse 19, asking what his ultimate reward was for his service to Christ. He replies that the Thessalonian believers-the people, themselves-were his joy and glory. This declaration would encourage the believers immensely and assure them that Paul's absence from them had not dimmed his love for them.
What Paul writes in this verse assures us that eternal value resides in work done in the name of Christ, not in material possessions (1 John 2:15-17). Jesus warned against materialism. He said: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). He instructed His followers to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:20-21). The Thessalonian believers were Paul's treasure, and they were dear to his heart!
1 Thess. 1:13-20 Extra Commentary
1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
"The word of God which ye heard of us": Both Paul and the Thessalonians recognized that the Word he preached to them was the Word of God ("a word spoken by God). In this context, Paul is boldly asserting the divine inspiration of his gospel (2 Tim. 3:16).
"Worketh also in you": The work of God's Word includes: saving (Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23); teaching and training (2 Tim. 3:16-17); guiding (Psalm 119:105); counseling (Psalm 119:24); reviving (Psalm 119:154); restoring (Psalm 19:7); warning and rewarding (Psalm 19:11); nourishing (1 Pet. 2:2); judging (Heb. 4:12); sanctifying (John 17:17); freeing (John 8:31-32); enriching (Col. 3:16); protecting (Psalm 119:11); strengthening (Psalm 119:28); making wise (Psalm 119:97-100); rejoicing the heart (Psalm 19:8); and prospering (Joshua 1:8-9).
Paul is like a proud father who is bragging on his children. Paul was proud that God had called them to His kingdom, but he was even more proud that they realized that his message was not his own, but was the message God had sent him with.
The Word of God is the One we call Jesus. It is also the Bible. For thousands of years, men have tried to prove that the Bible was just like any other book. They cannot do it. The Bible stands alone in the fact that it is alive. It is just as current today as it was two thousand years ago. It is our instruction for living victorious lives.
It was the instruction for our great grandparents living victorious lives as well. It is ageless. The Bible is inspired (God breathed). When I look into the Bible, I see the face of Jesus. All other books, besides the Bible, are of men. The Bible is of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:14 "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [have] of the Jews:"
"Followers": (imitators): As the Thessalonians imitated the apostles in their commitment to the Lord (1:6), they also imitated the Judean churches, since they also suffered at the hands of their own people.
Not only were the Thessalonians imitators of Paul and the Lord, but also of the churches in Judea, in the sense that they both were persecuted for Christ's sake (Acts 4:1-4; 5:26; 8:1). They drank Christ's cup of suffering (Mark 26:39), and walked in the way of the Old Testament prophets (Matt. 21:33-46; Luke 13:34).
To proclaim you were a Christian brought great persecution. In Judea, the persecution of the Christians came from the Jews. Here in Thessalonica it came from all those who did not believe. The church at Thessalonica was a Gentile church.
We had mentioned earlier that their persecution had not come from Judaizers in the church, but from the unbelievers from without.
Verses 15-16: "Contrary to all men": Just as it is God's will that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9),
so it was the will of the Jews that no one find salvation in Christ (verse 16). Paul at one time had embraced this
blasphemy of trying to prevent gospel preaching (1 Tim. 1:12-17).
1 Thessalonians 2:15 "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:"
"Killed the Lord Jesus": There is no question that the Jews were responsible for the death of their Messiah, though the Romans carried out the execution. It was the Jews who brought the case against Him and demanded His death (Luke 23:1-24, 34-38), just as they had killed the prophets (Matt. 22:37; Mark 5:1-8; Acts 7:51-52). If the Lord was not exempt from persecution, His followers could hardly expect to escape it.
"They please not God": Throughout this passage Paul shows that while his Jewish enemies think they are serving God, they really are not.
Paul is placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus on the Jews here. Look, in Jesus' own words, He says the Jews killed the prophets.
Matthew 23:31 "Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets."
It was the Jews who cried out for Jesus to be crucified. It was the Romans who carried it out. Really, though, you and I nailed Him to the cross. Paul speaks as one who knows. He had been a Jew. The Jew thought himself to be better than all other people. It outraged them that salvation was offered to the Gentile.
1 Thessalonians 2:16 "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."
"Fill up their sins": This expression parallels (Genesis 15:16). Often God allows His people to suffer the indignation of others simply because He is longsuffering toward the sinner, "not willing that any should perish." Consequently, some will repent and others will fully justify their condemnation.
"The wrath is come upon them": God's wrath (1:10; 5:9), on the Jews who "fill up the measure of their sins" (Matt. 23:32, Rom. 2:5). Thus, filling up the cup of wrath can be understood;
(1) Historically of the Babylonian exile (Ezek. 8-11);
(2) Prophetically of Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70;
(3) Eschatologically of Christ's second coming in judgment (Rev. 19); or
(4) Soteriologically in the sense that God's promised eternal wrath for unbelievers is so certain that it is spoken of as having come already as does the Apostle John (John 3:18, 36).
This context relates to the fourth option.
The big problem with the Jews, who had accepted Jesus as their Savior, was that they wanted to remain a Jew, as well as being a Christian. They wanted all Gentiles who came to Christ to first fulfill the custom of Jewish circumcision.
Paul, Peter, James, and many of the other disciples had gotten together and agreed that this was not part of being a Christian. God had turned to the Gentiles because the Jews as a whole, had rejected Christ as their Messiah, the Savior of the world.
When Paul speaks of we in the verse above, he is speaking of him being a Pharisee. He had been taught from his youth that Gentiles were unclean. Jesus opened his eyes and let him see the truth. To reject the Son of God is a serious thing.
Ephesians 5:6 "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
1 Thessalonians 2:17 "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire."
"Being taken from you": The Greek term (aporphanizo) is intensely passionate. It is related to our word "orphan," and could be translated "since we have been torn apart."
Paul had been forcedly separated from his spiritual children (Acts 17:5-9). His motherly (verse 7), and fatherly instincts (verse 11), had been dealt a severe blow. Literally the Thessalonians had been orphaned by Paul's forced departure.
We remember that Paul was in Corinth when he wrote this letter to the Thessalonians. He loved these people and desired to be with him. They were his friends, but Paul thought of them as his children in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was their founding father, and he thought of them as his spiritual children.
1 Thessalonians 2:18 "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
"Satan hindered us": Satan, which means adversary, continually attempted to tear down the church that Christ promised to build (Matt. 16:18). He was said to be present at the churches of Jerusalem (Acts 5:1-10), Smyrna (Rev. 2:9-10), Pergamum (Rev. 2:13), Thyatira (Rev. 2:24), Philadelphia (Rev. 3:9), Ephesus (1 Titus 3:6-7), and Corinth (2 Cor. 2:1-11).
He thwarted Paul in the sense that a military force would hinder the advance of his enemy. This could very possible refer to the pledge that Jason made (Acts. 17:9), if that pledge was a promise that Paul would not return to Thessalonica.
Paul wanted to come back to minister to them and to visit with them. It would have been like going home, because they had so eagerly accepted Paul and his teaching here. Satan is the author of all lies and the source of all hindrance to the gospel. Paul's own personal desire was to go to see them, but sometimes our desire is not the desire of the Lord.
Satan could not have prevented Paul from going back there any time he wanted to unless God gave Satan permission to do this. Unknowing to Satan, he sometimes plays right into the hands of God. God uses for good what Satan intended for evil.
God perhaps had plans for Paul to go to another church at this time. If you are a Christian, Satan has to get
God's permission to attack you. Our problems come to make us strong and to show us how badly we need
1 Thessalonians 2:19 "For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"
"Crown of rejoicing": The bible speaks of eternal life like a wreath awarded for an athletic victory. It is spoken of in terms of:
(1) The imperishable wreath that celebrates salvation's victory over corruption (1 Cor. 9:25);
(2) The righteous wreath that celebrates salvation's victory over unrighteousness (2 Tim. 4:8);
(3) Expected coming (2 Cor. 7:6).
Regarding Christ and the future, it can refer to:
(1) Christ's coming at the Rapture (4:15), or
(2) Christ's second coming prior to His 1,000 year millennial reign (Mat. 24:37; Rev. 19:11 - 20:6).
Paul referred directly to Christ's coming 4 times (in 1 Thess.), and once indirectly (1:10). Context indicates Paul most likely refers here to Christ's coming for the rapture of the church.
"At his coming": (Greek parousia): This was a common term in the Hellenistic world for formal visits by royalty. It became a technical term in the New Testament for the second coming of Christ. As such, it is used 18 times (seven in the Thessalonians epistles). This is the first time Paul uses it in his writings.
Paul's greatest reward would not be on this earth, but in heaven. He would feel a special joy when those whom he ministered to are able to stand before the Lord and be counted among the believers.
Paul would have many stars in his crown for all those he led to the Lord down through the ages. Paul's hope, the same as ours was hope of the resurrection. His joy would be very great because of all those he would be responsible for making the resurrection.
1 Thessalonians 2:20 "For ye are our glory and joy."
A spiritual parent is very much like a physical parent, in the fact that they have more joy over their children doing well than they do when they do well themselves. Paul could depend on these Thessalonians staying firm in their belief until the end. They truly would be his glory and his joy.
EW: 1 Thess. 2:13-20 Commentary
B. More thanksgiving for the work God did in the Thessalonians.
1. (13) Paul is thankful that they welcomed the Gospel as God's message, not man's.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
a. When you received the word of God: Paul earnestly believed and taught others that God had spoken to man and that we have recorded this word of God. Paul believed in a voice that speaks to mankind with the authority of eternity, and speaks above mere human opinion. Since we do have this word of God, we have a true voice of authority.
i. Some people like to say that there is a word of God, but that we can't be sure of what He says. When we appeal to the Bible, they like to reply, "That's just your interpretation." There are certainly some places where the word of God is hard to precisely interpret, but there are not many such places. If we can not know what God has spoken, then He may as well not have spoken at all.
b. You welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God: The Thessalonians received the word of God as it is in truth. Paul presented it not as the word of men, and the Thessalonians received it as the word of God.
i. Not everyone receives this message as the word of God. Yet when they do not receive it, it reflects upon them, not upon the message. "That you have not perceived spiritual things is true; but it is no proof that there are none to perceive. The whole case is like that of the Irishman who tried to upset evidence by non-evidence. Four witnesses saw him commit a murder. He pleaded that he was not guilty, and wished to establish his innocence by producing forty persons who did not see him do it. Of what use would that have been? So, if forty people declare that there is no power of the Holy Ghost going with the word, this only proves that the forty people do not know what others do know." (Spurgeon)
c. Which also effectively works in you who believe: Paul's confidence in the word of God wasn't a matter of wishful thinking or blind faith. He could see that it effectively works in those who believe. God's Word works, it doesn't only bring information or produce feelings. There is power in the word of God to change lives.
i. "The powerful working of God is usually expressed by this word, Ephesians 1:19; Philippians 2:13; and the working of Satan also, Ephesians 2:2. Men possessed with the devil are called energumeni. And where the word is believed and received as the word of God, there it has this energy, or worketh effectually, so as to promote love, repentance, self-denial, mortification, comfort, and peace." (Poole)
2. (14-16) The Thessalonians welcomed suffering when they welcomed the Word, yet they stood steadfast.
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
a. For you also suffered the same things: When the Thessalonians responded to the Gospel, they became the targets of persecution. As they did, they were not alone, because those among the churches of God have often suffered persecution. The Thessalonian Christians became imitators of those who had suffered before them.
i. The Thessalonians willingly suffered the same things because they were convinced that Paul brought them not the word of man, but the Word of God. The word of man isn't worth suffering for, but a true message from God is worth it.
ii. Churches is the ancient Greek word ekklesia; it was not a specifically religious word. Christians passed over many Greek words that were commonly used for religious brotherhoods. "The force of this is that Christianity is not just another religion. It is not to be named with any of the words proper to religions in general [of that day]." (Morris)
b. Who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us: Paul comforted these suffering Christians with the assurance that they were not the first to suffer this way. The Lord Jesus faced persecution, and the Christians in Judea faced it first. Additionally, Paul and his associates were also persecuted.
i. Who killed... the Lord Jesus: Here Paul wrote that his own countrymen (the Judeans) had killed... the Lord Jesus. But Paul knew well that the Jews of Judea were not the only ones responsible for the murder of Jesus. The Romans had their full share of guilt, so both Jew and Gentile were guilty.
c. And they do not please God and are contrary to all men: Paul also comforted the Thessalonian Christians with the awareness that they were right, that they are the ones pleasing God. This was necessary assurance because they were persecuted by religious people and might wonder if these other religious people were in fact right before God in their persecuting.
d. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins: Here Paul revealed what offended the religious persecutors of the Thessalonians so much. They were outraged that Gentiles could be saved without first becoming Jews. This exclusive attitude filled up the measure of their sins.
i. "The Jews' opposition to the work of the missionaries among the Gentiles was not due to the fact that they were seeking to win Gentiles. The Jews themselves were vigorously engaged in this period of their history in actively proselyting Gentiles. Their fierce opposition was due to the fact that Christian missionaries offered salvation to Gentiles without demanding that they first become Jews." (Hiebert)
ii. "The plural 'sins' points to the aggregate of their separate evil acts, and not to the general abstract concept of 'sin.'" (Morris)
e. But wrath has come upon them to the uttermost: Paul comforted the Thessalonians by assuring them that God would indeed take care of their persecutors. When Christians forget this, they often disgrace and curse themselves by returning persecution for persecution towards others.
i. "Their crimes were great; to these their punishment is proportioned. For what end God has preserved them distinct from all the people of the earth among whom they sojourn, we cannot pretend to say; but it must unquestionably be for an object of the very highest importance. In the meantime, let the Christian world treat them with humanity and mercy." (Clarke)
ii. "At the same time we should notice that Paul's anger is the anger of a man with his own nation, with his own people. He is very much part of them, and he sorrows for their fate." (Morris)
3. (17-20) Paul explains his absence from the Thessalonians.
But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you-even I, Paul, time and again-but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
a. Away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face: Paul knew that the Thessalonians appreciated the comfort he gave, but they wondered why he didn't come and bring this comfort in person. They naturally thought that this would be much better. Yet Paul assured them that the reason was not a lack of love or desire on his part.
b. We wanted to come to you... but Satan hindered us: It wasn't that Paul did not want to visit the Thessalonians. It was that Satan hindered Paul and his associates. Paul assured the Thessalonians that he desired to be with them, but he was hindered by Satan, and that this happened time and again.
i. The Thessalonians were mostly Gentile converts, yet when Paul mentioned Satan here, he gave no further explanation. This shows that in the few weeks he was there, Paul taught the Thessalonians much about Satan and spiritual warfare.
c. Satan hindered us: Paul, in all his apostolic ministry and authority, could still be blocked by Satan. But Paul did not just receive this Satanic hindrance in a fatalistic way. He did something about the hindrance.
i. First, Paul understood that this was Satanic hindrance. He knew this was not a random circumstance, but a direct attack from Satan. Paul had the discernment to know.
ii. Second, Paul had faith. For a short time means that Paul knew it would only be a short time until the roadblock was overcome.
iii. Third, Paul was committed to fight against the roadblock any way he could. If he couldn't be there in person, his letter will go for him and teach and encourage them in his absence. Many scholars believe that 1 Thessalonians was Paul's earliest letter written as an apostle to a church. If this is the case, then Satan's roadblock got Paul started on writing letters to the churches. When Satan saw the great work God did through these letters, he regretted that he ever hindered Paul at all.
iv. Finally, God brought the victory. Acts 20:1-5 describes Paul's eventual return to Thessalonica and to other churches in the area.
v. "Supposing that we have ascertained that hindrances in our way really come from Satan, WHAT THEN? I have but one piece of advice, and that is, go on, hindrance or no hindrance, in the path of duty as God the Holy Ghost enables you." (Spurgeon)
d. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Paul assured the Thessalonians that he could never forget them because they were his glory and his joy. His inability to visit should never be taken as a lack of love towards the Thessalonians.
i. Perhaps Paul would say that he didn't need a crown in heaven because these precious ones were his crown of victory. Those whom we bring to Jesus and disciple are a crown of victory for us.
ii. "Every man who preaches the Gospel should carefully read this chapter and examine himself by it. Most preachers, on reading it conscientiously, will either give up their place to others, or purpose to do the work of the Lord more fervently for the future." (Clarke)